If you sift through all the events in your life and set aside the meaningful, important ones, you'll see that you can put them into two categories: the ones you are proud of, and the ones you regret. This is the second piggy that I have lost, and losing him falls undeniably into the latter. I can't help comparing my feelings now with those I had when I lost Puffy.
Puffy was my rock, he kept everything together for me, and he made everything alright when they are not. I know I have endlessly put Puffy in the spotlight in my chronicles, and everyone can tell by now how much he meant. But even that could not compare with just how much he was to me....it is truly something beyond words. It is simply something that fills me with warmth and love at the slightest thought of him...and when I dreamt of him a few days ago, I held onto that like a drop of heaven. I dreamt that he was back in his cage, healthy and jolly as ever. I remember thinking in my dream, "just because Puffy is gone, why can't he come back and live in his cage still, why?" and just like that, he came back, bringing all his soft swooshy hair with him, waddling about in his cageful of 5 girls, trying to work out his bearings. When I woke up, I locked that dream safely in my heart.
When Puffy was gone, I was stricken by grief and guilt. So I went over every little detail in his life, I beat myself up with all the tiniest things I did wrong that could have brought about that god awful kidney stone. I was still very much an amateur, and really didn't know how fragile these little critters were, how deadly stones were, and how easily they form. When the babies came, I fed their pellets half alfalfa, half timothy. So mommies, babies and of course, the daddy...were taking in a diet much higher in calcium. For the babies, that was fine. Even for the mother, I imagine she could use some extra calcium post pregnancy. But for Puffy...he innocently ate along with everyone else, gobbling down all that excess calcium because he trusted me to provide the very best for him, only I didn't. Thinking back now...how I wish it dawned on me back then. But I just didn't think it was such a big deal, I had this image in my head that my pigs were all sturdy and robust, nothing could ever happen to them.
I don't know how much those alfalfa pellets contributed to the stone that eventually formed inside Puffy...but his health started to deteriorate slowly before my eyes. He had those unexplained soft poops, he had bad appetite. he lost weight, and was in obvious discomfort at times. Yet, all his blood tests and xrays came back normal, and we just didn't know what was causing him all this. It pained me so much to see him like that, but he somehow always smiled back at me bravely.
and by the end of that week, he was no more. This couldn't be happening.
As time passed...I healed very slowly. I looked at Puffy's life as a whole, and realize how luxurious and fulfilling it was, for him. Although he had less than 2 years on this earth, he lived such an animated life. From the tiny little pet shop cage his life started off in, to bigger cages, to a multi storey CC cage custom shipped and built for him. Then came the girls...and the babies. I don't think there was a boring day in his life. I look at his photos...and see him smiling back at me. My close friends tell me that some pigs live much longer than Puffy, but they live a boring, dull, miserable life...and that it's not about how long he lived, but how happy he was. Puffy had always been a small pig, I remember he topped 800g for one glorious day in his life, and never did again. He was especially soft and cuddly, and maybe in subtle ways I missed - weak. Slowly, I started to accept the fact that maybe he couldn't live a very long life, maybe it was genetic, maybe he was just a stone prone pig...I will never know for sure, and I hated myself at times as I blamed his genes for what happened to him. There will always be a part of me that blamed myself. I remember seeing him in the pet shop window, battling with my rational side for a month, and in the end I gave in and brought him home. I think he was meant for me, he completed me in so many ways. I thought and I thought....and one day, I did not shed tears of guilt when I thought of Puffy, but tears of bittersweet memories. That was when I made my peace with his passing, because deep down I knew, that no one, no one...could have loved him as fiercely as I did. and I hoped he knew that, too.
I still cry for Puffy, I do. At night, in the shower, when I come across his photos and videos. He will always be a part of me, even though his time here with me wasn't nearly long enough. But he's here, and I have no regrets when I think of him. I am able to think of Puffy now, and truly tell myself I did everything for him, and that he really did live life to his fullest, and that it was a very happy one. I am proud of everything I have done for him.
But Cotton. When I think of Cotton...I know I will never forgive myself. This is different...this is unforgivable. Many people tell me that I have done my best, I have done everything...but deep deep down I know: I haven't. It doesn't make me feel better if I try to comfort myself with those words, because those words are a lie, and it isn't fair to Cotton's memory that I paint over my grief with that lie. I don't think I will ever find peace for Cotton's passing, maybe the most I can manage this time is acceptance. But the first step to that is admitting I made a mistake, I messed up. Careless little kids who don't know better let their pigs die from a heat stroke...cruel breeders who only care for money let their pigs die from diarrhoea....but me? Of all people, how could I have let this happen? It reminds me of when I had hamsters when I was in fourth grade, and they were more of an entertainment/toy to me than a pet, and when winter came, they died from the cold because I didn't know they needed cotton to keep them warm. It reminds me of the goldfish I let die because I fed them too much, or fed them too little...and even that one I accidentally flushed down the tub as I changed its water. But back then I was small and ignorant, and adults will maybe shake their heads at me but nothing more. And now? I am fully grown...I've had pigs for this long, I've loved them for this long, and I STILL let this happen?
There's no worst feeling to be confronted with than the realization that I just didn't try hard enough. It's not something I can get over with, it's not something I can forgive. It is something I must live with forever, something that is part of Cotton's memory, reminding myself of how he became a victim of my ignorance.
Cotton and Fuzz...Cotton and Fuzz. It's like saying Rock n Roll or Fish n Chips. Puffy's 2 sons, and look how things turned out for them? Fuzz is happily living with Shui Mui, they make a really cute couple as Winnie tells me, if anything, Shui Mui loves Fuzz more than vice versa despite she is spayed! Them two are endlessly dependent on eachother and love playing tag and just showing general PDA :) Whereas Cotton moved in with Snowy, and them two were slightly less er...passionate as Fuzz and Shui Mui, for a number of reasons of course. The obvious one being that Snowy is his mom, she is a 4 year old sow having gone through 2 pregnancies and now spayed, and is just looking forward to an uneventful old age.
While Cotton is this hyperactive little tank who can't wait to run his momma over every quarter of an hour.
Now Snowy is known for her patience and good temper, but enough is enough! When she finally snapped at Cotton, he got the message...and settled dejectedly down next to Snowy, praying for his luck (and checking his luck every 10 minutes...)
In case you're wondering, yeah, I gave all my pigs a summer shave. Except their heads, or course. Hence, Cotton's been going around looking like a lollipop (big head, thin body) for a couple weeks now :) Notice the mohican streak I left down the centre of his back? That ends in a pointy little tip :P
When Jiffy's dad got a girlfriend for Jiffy, Dolly, but she had some severe skin issues so he gave Jiffy back to me for a few weeks while he cures Dolly. At first, I didn't know where to put Jiffy. I checked his skin repeatedly but it doesn't seem he caught anything from Dolly (they were never housed together). But I was still hesitant to put Jiffy in with my 6 girls, just in case. So I put him alone in a small cage....
and he sat there battering my conscience all day...
eventually I gave in and put him in with Snowy and Cotton. Of course, I had my concerns, since it is an universal rule not to put 2 boys in with 1 girl. But er....this is an interesting trio to say the least. One middle aged spayed female, one young hyperactive steed who needs to keep his testesterone in check, constantly...and one other boar, neutered and too bored to be living alone. Okay, so I put Jiffy in.
when Snowy showed none, Jiffy started to return Cotton's advances of friendship :) Cotton says...
the living room cage is dark, so the photo qualities are usually less than satisfactory. but this one pretty well sums up those 3. We'll have Cotton and Jiffy happily cozying up to eachother, and an elderly Snowy watching lazily from her bed below
Snowy: pffft....as if I haven't seen enough in this life already....what a gay couple they are. Fine by me, though!
Sigh, so that was the last few weeks of Cotton's life. I'd say he's gone through quite a lot. From that small cotton ball weighing 85g, to a big squishy boy, 800g. and yes indeed, the photo that made him famous:
Sleeping so peacefully, like he was a cloud that just drifted quietly into my life....and one day, floated out of it. Back up to the skies...watching over me. Cotton, I'm so sorry. I don't know what else to say to you..only that I owe you so much. Unlike your daddy, you were always healthy, if this didn't happen, you could have lived to a ripe old age. Life was too short for you, my dear...and I didn't hold on to you tightly enough. Your life has been extraodinary, and it would have been all the more if it weren't for me.
When you lose a pet...most of the time, you feel guilty because it is only natural to blame yourself. That guilt will hopefully eventually subside, and give way to the sweet memories you shared. But for me, at least this time, I feel guilty because I really should. Because...this wasn't supposed to happen.
I'm ashamed to say that I'm not proud of myself, at all...for what I've done to you, Cotton. I know you want me to be strong, for there are many more pigs depending on me, and of course I will be for them. But whenever I think of you...I will be weak, because I couldn't...I didn't...save you.
Thank you for listening to me...thank you for comforting me and sticking with me through all this. Guinealynx has become such a big part of my life that you all have shaped my life in a way. Through you all, I can share my love and passion for guinea pigs, and you have laughed, loved and cried along with my chronicles. I cherish every single one of your comments and feedback, knowing that in this crazy world, we all have this one thing in common, at least. Guinea pigs :) Sigh, I guess I'm not looking for reassurance...like I was when Puffy passed. This time is so different because there is just no forgiving to it. Cotton was one of the prettiest pigs I've ever seen, and he was mine...and I let him go. Years from now, I know I will feel the same intense guilt, and shed the same amount of tears as I think of Cotton, because I know this is one very special little guy I completely let down. I promise to take the best of care with the reamaining 10 pigs I have now.